Originally Posted by Delight
I've been reading Material World
and Women of the Material World
by Peter Menzel. It's such a wake up call to truly see what other families in the world live with. I feel so pathetic when I think about all of my WANTS...and all they want is to live until tomorrow. Makes me want to sell everything! Like the PP said, it really starts to become a spiritual thing. Our belongings certainly define us sometimes. As a Christian, I want to be a good steward of all that God has given me, and when I have a lot of excess, how can I take good care of it all?!
Reading Material World
was a defining experience for me. That's an awesome book and I think every family should own a copy! I didn't know that Women of the Material World
existed; I'm going to get a copy of that, too, if I can find a used one on the cheap. I'd been pretty interested in simple living before I read that, but the book really drove home for me how very (a) blessed, and (b) greedy we are in the western world. And I had the same spiritual response to it that you did; if I'm a child of my creator with work to do here on earth, how can I expect to fulfill that if I'm spending my time taking care of stuff? And how can I live with myself if I own a mountain of clutter when 40,000 people die every single day of poverty related causes?
So I guess it just really reminded me that my time here is not meant to be spent on acquiring and taking care of "stuff." My time here is meant to be spent caring for people. Since our big purge, I've had more time to enjoy my kids, and more time to do the volunteer and activism work that is important for me.
As for being overwhelmed, I had a terrible time with that feeling when we started. DH and I married after we both already had children and fully furnished homes. DH is a packrat, so that definitely added to the clutter. When we had DS, I closed the little in-home preschool I'd been running, so we had loads of stuff from that. Our den was cramped and crowded, and we had one bedroom that was full, literally corner to corner and floor to ceiling. I had to work really hard to break the job down into bite-size chunks. First I eBay'ed the biggest stuff to give myself a little room to move. Then I'd give myself little goals, like I wanted to eBay 10 things in a given week, or clean out this one box, or whatever. If I spent too much time concentrating on our ultimate goal (a house that held only the essentials of daily living and a few luxuries), I was doomed. The whole process took over a year, but it was well worth it.
I don't think the de-cluttering process ever really ends for us here in the west. We always have to evaluate and re-evaluate because there is just SO MUCH stuff available. A de-cluttering book by Don Aslett really helped me.
Oh, and (sorry to go on so long here), a major benefit of clearing out all our excess is that it has saved us SO MUCH money! We rarely lose anything, so we're not out buying replacements. I can buy in bulk when I find a good deal because I have room to store something like a case of toilet paper or canned beans. Things (esp. toys) get ruined far less frequently because they're easier to put away.
Ummm...does my enthusiasm show at all?
I guess I just wanted to encourage the people who are at the beginning of this process, because it is very, very worth the effort. I wouldn't trade all that work for anything. It has dramatically improved the quality of life at my house.